Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

Hotch was elder and culture bearer


September 27, 2018

Evelyn Hotch

Evelyn Hotch, 83, known as Kaaxkwei in Lingit, died at her Klukwan home on Sep. 10, after being bed ridden for 8-and-a-half years with multiple ailments. She kept the good humor, wisdom, and grace that she was known for throughout her life until the end.

Evelyn Winnifred Hotch was born on June 14, 1935 ("Flag Day" she would say) in Haines to Clarence and Laura Hotch and spent much of her childhood in the Frog House in Klukwan with her grandparents Annie and Gus Klaney, who was the caretaker. A favorite memory was going to bed surrounded by the carved screens and posts. She was among a handful of elders who were native Lingit speakers and learned English outside her home and at the Klukwan BIA school. She made the old village boardwalks clack every autumn with her new wooden school shoes. It was also there that her tonsils were removed, along with all the other children's, and where she learned to despise cod liver oil. 

Hotch attended the Mt. Edgecumbe boarding school in Sitka grades 7-12 and graduated in 1955. She had fond memories and made lifelong friends there. Her children and several of her ten grandchildren attended the school.

As a teenager and young adult she loved to jitterbug to the strains of hits by Boots Randolph and the like played by the Klukwan band made up of saxophones, drums, guitars and more. Marvin Willard Sr. was in one incarnation of the band, and played "Why Me Lord" on his guitar at Hotch's memorial service on Friday, September 14 in the Klukwan Alaska Native Sisterhood Hall. Her daughters, granddaughters, and relatives Lani and Marsha Hotch sang "Amazing Grace" in Lingit. At her request, attendees wore Lingit regalia, ANS blue and white, and the colors of Hotch's (and Klukwan's) favorite team, the Lakers. 

Her daughter Joanne Elsie Spud said Hotch "probably held every ANS office multiple times" including president. She was the ANS Grand Camp Treasurer Emeritus, an honor that she alone held. "She was so good at it that she served for 22 years," Spud says, and did all the bookkeeping by hand. She enjoyed serving and said all the laughter and good will made it not seem like work. She helped support the Jilkaat Kwaan Heritage Center from concept to completion from fundraisers to speaking in favor of it. "She did as much as she could," Spud said, and even flew home from a hospital stay in Anchorage and took an ambulance back to the village to witness the grand opening.

Hotch served on the SEARHC board of directors, worked as a secretary of the tribal office, as a health aid, REACH caregiver, and as young woman at the Haines Packing Co. cannery. 

She was "beyond happy" to teach her language as a Lingit master mentor and instructor at the Sheldon Museum, Klukwan School, and in village classes, Spud said. "She would light up whenever someone learned a new word, and when new people showed up at the museum for her class it really made her day."

She married Joe Hotch of Klukwan and they had four children. She doted on her family and infused her home with laughter and love, Spud said. "Everything we did was fun or funny to her." For decades her place was the center of family activity from holiday feasts to "cereal parties". Extended family, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren gathered there to celebrate in good times, pray in hard times, and watch Lakers games. She always prepared the season's first boiled fish, first nyadee (lightly-smoked baked salmon), and first herring eggs. She played Bingo, liked to visit Reno, watch Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman and other TV series, and enjoyed a life-long friendship with her late sister-in-law Rachel Hotch. 

Her children are Joanne Elsie Spud (Charlie), Katherine Hotch,

Daniel Hotch ( Maggie), and David Hotch, and grandchildren are Joleen Hotch, Shannon Spud, Yeilthgahkoogei Karlie Spud, Shawna Hotch, Raven Hotch, Michaelene Hotch, Christopher Hotch, Tyler Spud, Cody Hotch and David Anthony Hotch. She had three great-grandchildren. 

She leaves siblings Lorena, Sugar, and Vincent Hotch and adopted sister and brother Mary Price and Norman Hotch.

Her brother Franklin Buzzy Hotch, sisters Marilyn, Gertrude, and baby Lorena, uncle Archie Klaney, aunt Elsie Hayes and nephews Buzzy Hotch Jr., Mark Willard, and Curtis Don Willard preceded her in death.


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